RYEDALE'S Chris Jones has lifted the lid on life behind the scenes at Twickenham, the home of English rugby union.

Jones, who helps to coach Malton & Norton RUFC Under-14s, has covered England’s fluctuating fortunes for 30 years as the rugby union correspondent of the London Evening Standard.

The journalist has used his background knowledge and contacts to put together the book The Secret Life Of Twickenham, published by Aurum Press.

The book includes interviews with many of the biggest names in the sport, such as former Ampleforth School pupil Lawrence Dallaglio, Brian Moore and Bill Beaumont, who have played at the stadium.

The author also speaks to many of those involved in the building of Twickenham, which will host the final of the 2015 Rugby Union World Cup in 2015.

Among the “secrets” Jones has uncovered is the fact that a swastika was burnt into the Twickenham pitch by anti-apartheid demonstrators in 1969 during the South African tour, but it was covered up by Clerk of Works Howard Clark, who worked for many years at Castle Howard, with the help of green dye and grass cuttings.

It was planned for the revamped Twickenham to have a capacity of 125,000, but the Hillsborough disaster saw plans for terracing scrapped and an all-seater bowl created for 82,000.

When the BBC series Top Gear filmed Car Rugby on the Twickenham pitch – which was being dug up the next day – two of the ground staff were given a high speed trip by Stig, the programme’s unnamed specialist driver, who reached speeds of 70 mph before executing a handbrake turn in the in-goal area.

The redevelopment of the stadium included Projects X, Y and Z, which only a handful of people knew about.

Two were completed, with the most contentious being a £90,000 private dining room hidden behind fire doors. It was there that then Prime Minister John Major held a meeting with the Irish deputy prime minister.

The book also details fascinating facts such as the number of pints of Guinness drunk at last season’s England versus Ireland match - 89,616 pints.

At the same match, fans also downed 48,323 pints of lager, 18,560 pints of bitter and 4,048 pints of cider.

Jones hopes the book will help generate interest in both the stadium and the sport with less than a year to go to the World Cup.

"I have been fortunate to have covered every World Cup since it started in New Zealand in 1987, and the tournament has grown out of all recognition," said Jones.

“It now stands alongside the biggest events in the sporting calendar and rugby fans in Yorkshire will be able to watch games at Elland Road.

"The aim is to generate increased interest in the sport and convince more youngsters – and those not so young – to pull on their boots.

“The world of rugby will be coming to England next year and we should not waste this golden opportunity to boost playing numbers in the grassroots of what is already a great sport.

"Twickenham is an iconic stadium and has evolved from a shabby home for the game in this country to a high-tech venue for England that inspires every member of the team."

* The Secret Life Of Twickenham is published by Aurum Press, at £20.